- Low price for a two-color 3D printer.
- Good print quality.
- No misprints.
- Prints over a USB or Wi-Fi connection, or from an SD card.
- Poor documentation makes the learning curve longer than it should be.
- Requires use of proprietary filament.
The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix is great choice for a low-price consumer 3D printer, especially if you want to print in two colors.
Design and Features
The Mix$449.95 at Amazon comes in a chassis with a white front, top, and back, and translucent red sides. It measures 15.0 by 16.5 by 16.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 26.4 pounds. Its build area of 5.9 by 5.9 by 5.9 inches is typical for a low-price 3D printer; it’s the same size as the XYZprinting Mini. The Mix has a closed frame, with a front door (with a see-through panel) you can swing upward when you need to access the print bed, but otherwise providing protection for people who might be tempted to reach into the printer and risk a nasty burn. The extruder nozzle is located behind the extruder assembly and is hard to reach, further helping to keep you safe from accidental burns. It’s a relatively quiet printer, and is unlikely to bother people in its vicinity.
Below the door, the front panel houses a three-line monochrome display and a four-way controller flanked by home and OK buttons. These controls let you easily navigate the Mix’s menu system. You can transfer 3D object files for printing from the company’s XYZware software either over a USB cable, Wi-Fi, or from an SD card that fits into a slot just above the front panel. From the menu, you can also run a routine to calibrate the printbed, which it then does automatically without requiring your intervention.
Two Filament Colors, One Nozzle
The Mix shares all the above features and specs with the XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0$199.99 at Amazon, but while the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 has a single spool holder on the left side of its interior, the Mix has one on each side. It feeds filament from both spools through clear plastic tubing into the extruder. You can print in one color, or in either of two two-color modes.
In Mixer mode, the bottom of an object will be one color and the top a second color, with the two colors mixing in a gradient between them. Multicolor mode is similar to how dual-extruder models such as the MakerBot Replicator 2X $2,499.00 at Amazon print two-color objects, except that instead of having two extruders, each feeding a different color, the Mix has a single extruder and nozzle through which both colors are fed. In this mode, you can either print objects in each of the two colors, side by side, or you can overlay two object files, each set to print in a different color and designed to interlock, like a 3D jigsaw puzzle.
The Mix uses the same type of proprietary “smart cartridges”—which detect when filament is low and needs replacing—that we have seen in other XYZprinting models. It exclusively uses polylactic acid (PLA) filament. A 600-gram (1.3-pound) cartridge, which the company sells in 11 colors, normally costs $27.99, considerably less than the same-size “smart” cartridges used by the CEL Robox, which cost $49.99 for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and $54.99 for PLA, and slightly more than spools for the New Matter MOD-t ($19.99 for a 500-gram spool).
Although the price is reasonable for proprietary filament, you still are restricted to using XYZprinting’s spools, while third-party filament can cost less. The Mix’s 600-gram spools are an odd size as well; non-proprietary PLA filament generally sells for between $19.99 and $29.99 for a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) spool.
Most of XYZprinting’s filament colors are clear or translucent, while four (black, white, blue, and neon green) are opaque. The company recommends that you avoid using the opaque filaments in the Mixer printing mode, as they tend to overlay the clearer filaments and adversely affect the gradation.
The XYZWare software is downloadable from the XYZprinting site once you set up a free, password-protected account. With it, you can load an object, rescale it, move it on the build platform, save it to the company’s .3w file format, set the resolution, and import the file to the printer.
Pressing the Print command brings up a dialog box that lets you choose between three quality settings: Normal, Good, and Excellent (it’s set to Good by default). The resolution, or layer height, of 300 microns (0.3mm) can be changed to 200 or 400 microns from an Advanced menu, with a corresponding increase or decrease in speed. You can also add a raft or supports and enable or disable the color-blending zone from this box.
When you first set up XYZware for the Mix, it defaults to monochrome printing. To print in color, you must choose the Enable Blending Zone option. The Mix offers the two-color printing modes discussed above. They are accessible through buttons in the screen’s upper right corner, and you can toggle between them. A page that appears both in the quick start guide and the user manual shows screenshots of the two modes, and labels some of the features, but does not clearly describe how to get up and running in Mixer mode—which I figured out after some trial and error—nor how to print a single object in two colors from two files. (For that, you have to open the files so that they’re both visible in the preview, assign a color to each, and then set the x and y axis for each object to identical positions.) You can figure out this procedure easily enough if you’ve printed two-color objects from dual-extruder printers before, but it won’t be obvious if you have no prior 3D printing experience.
One big strength of XYZWare is that it is quite fast in slicing objects (mapping their individual layers in preparation to printing), with the files I printed generally being sliced in about 20 seconds. It’s not uncommon for other 3D printers to take upward of a minute to slice the same files.
Setup and Installation
With the help of the quick start guide that comes with the machine, setup is pretty straightforward. Once you unpack the printer, you install the extruder module, and then the filament guide tube.
To install the filament, you run two sections of filament guide tube from either side of the extruder into holes just above each filament spool. You press the extruder, after attaching a flat cable to it, into its socket in the extruder assembly. You unscrew each filament spool’s axle, install a sensor chip (which lets the printer know when the filament is low, for instance), reseat the axles in the spools, and mount them on the filament holder on each side of the printer. Then you insert a section of each spool’s filament into the guide tubes on either side, and follow the instructions for changing spools from the Utilities menu on the front panel. The filament from each side should automatically feed into the extruder. One caveat: You need to load both filament spools; the printer can’t start with only one filament.
After installing XYZware for the Mix, you connect the power cable to the printer and the USB cable to the PC you want to print from, insert the included SD card in its slot, and turn the power switch on. You cover the print bed with a sheet of tape that XYZprinting provides. You can print over a USB or Wi-Fi connection, or from files saved to the SD card—it comes with one test file, a heart-shaped pendant, already loaded. (If you want to control the printer over a wireless connection, XYZPrinting provides instructions for that.)
I did our testing (nine objects) at the printer’s default resolution of 300 microns. I did about half of the prints in one color, four in Mixer Mode, and one in Multicolor Mode, the latter using two interlocking files to print a two-color tree frog. Print quality, although good for the price, isn’t quite as good as with the XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini—especially with one test object that consists of geometric shapes and raised text protruding from an almost vertical surface—and is about average among the 3D printers we’ve tested. Several, including the New Matter MOD-t, have produced clearly higher-quality prints.
For two-color printing, the results are okay. You can print a two-color object in Mixer mode, but although I saw some improvement in the course of the four prints I made in that mode, it clearly takes time to master. In Multicolor mode, the Mix did print our test object from two files as billed, although there wasn’t as clear a differentiation between the different-colored zones as I saw when testing the MakerBot Replicator 2X, a two-color printer that uses a separate extruder and nozzle for each color.
The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 2.0 Mix is easy to recommend as a consumer-oriented 3D printer that can print in two colors. It proved dependable in testing, with no misprints. The process of printing in its color modes should be better documented, however. Print quality can’t quite match the Editors’ Choice XYZprinting da Vinci Mini, though it is still good for a budget model. Printing in two colors is smoother than with the MakerBot Replicator 2X—which was prone to clogged extruders in our testing—though the quality of the Mix’s two-color prints isn’t as good. Still, the Mix is priced much lower than the Replicator 2X, and is a solid choice for anyone wanting to get their feet wet in two-color 3D printing.